Why Online Retailers Need Physical Stores to Improve Customer Experience

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Customers spend six times more money in-store than online. (iStock)

It’s been almost a month now since Amazon surprised analysts by opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle, Washington on November 3.

The online retailer is going head-to-head with small, independently owned bookshops by offering the personalized benefits of in-store shopping combined with the convenience of online shopping.

Amazon’s move represents a growing trend by online retailers to add brick-and-mortar locations to their businesses. It appears they now realize that online shopping will never offer a great customer experience. And in today’s marketplace, customer experience is everything.

Related: Key questions to ask in retail customer feedback surveys

Read below for a few reasons why all online retailers should consider physical stores to improve their customer experience, and ultimately increase sales.

  • Customers who purchase from online retailers with physical stores receive improved delivery times because the stores serve as local storage and shipping centers.
  • According to research from the International Council of Shopping Centers, 73 percent of consumers want to try on or touch merchandise before they make a purchase. It eliminates the guessing game about whether a product is the right fit.
  • In a multigenerational study, 90 percent of shoppers said they would prefer to buy in a brick-and-mortar store because they like going out and touching products.
  • Customers spend six times more money in-store than online. After online retailer BaubleBar opened up a physical store the business experienced increased sales, fewer returns and more repeat customers.
  • Customers enjoy flexible pick-up and return times at physical stores. According to a Shop Visible study, online retailers that allow for in-store returns can expect up to an 18 percent increase in sales compared to online retailers that only allow for remote exchanges.

Can you think of other ways that online retailers improve customer experience by implementing physical stores? Share them in the comments below. 

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